NEW YORK (Press Release) — Saying it would “trample on the memory” of World War II labor and concentration camp victims, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned a march, planned for July 31 in Vaivara, Estonia, to honor an Estonian division of the Nazi SS that fought in a 1944 battle against Soviet troops.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor, issued the following statement:
“Opposing Soviet repression is one thing, but celebrating the Nazi SS is quite another. Unfortunately, in the past we have seen Estonian officials participate in such events, rather than oppose them.
“Vaivara should evoke mourning and reflection, not celebration. Twenty thousand Jews from across the Baltics were imprisoned in the Vaivara camps, as were other victims and prisoners of war. Every two weeks the Jews who were too sick or frail to work were murdered. Those who march will trample on their memory.
“A telling choice once again lies before Estonian officials. They, along with responsible members of Estonian civil society, should unequivocally condemn the planned march in Vaivara.”
Preceding provided by Anti-Defamation League
JERUSALEM–Holocaust scholars have criticized a growing tendency in central and eastern Europe to equate the Shoah with Communist oppression, a trend which they consider “the gravest threat to preserving the memory of the Holocaust” as it served to exculpate populations complicit in the extermination of their Jewish minorities, according to a report by the Israeli newspaper ‘Haaretz’.
Professor Yehuda Bauer of the Hebrew University called equation attempts “campaigns to marginalize the Holocaust.”
According to a number of leading experts on the Holocaust, the state-sponsored equation of Nazi crimes with Communist brutality in central and eastern Europe is the most serious threat to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. This phenomenon was especially prevalent in Lithuania but also existed in certain circles in Poland, said Laurence Weinbaum of the World Jewish Congress, who specializes in Polish-Jewish relations.
He was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “In the Baltic states, especially Lithuania and Latvia, the campaign to consign the victims of the Holocaust and of Communism to the same basket is a transparent attempt to blur Baltic societies’ wholesale complicity in the murder of their Jewish populations.”
In August, the prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania signed a joint declaration supporting a call to make 23 August European day of remembrance for victims of both Stalinism and Nazism. “In Lithuania, equalizing Stalinism and Nazism is a ruse to delete the stain of massive collaboration,” Professor Dovid Katz, a Vilnius-based researcher, told ‘Haaretz’: “Instead of facing the past, the state deletes the Holocaust as a category and buries it in another paradigm.”
Weinbaum noted that “Polish society as a whole cannot be seen as a perpetrator-nation, as can be the Lithuanians.” While some Poles were complicit in the murder and despoliation of Jews, he noted, “others rescued them.” He said that in Poland, some circles, especially Polish Holocaust scholars, “vociferously oppose” a combined commemoration date while others supported it for nationalistic reasons. “To be sure, no one can or should minimize the untold suffering caused by Communist tyranny, of which Jews were also victims, but common commemoration will only serve to disfigure memory and history.”
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
MUNICH, Germany (WJC) — The alleged Nazi war criminal Ivan Demjanjuk may have his trial postponed after an appeal to the court by his attorney. The 89-year-old Ukrainian-born man is on trial in Munich charged with helping to murder 27,900 Jews at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. The case resumed on Tuesday.
Demjanjuk’s defense lawyer Ulrich Busch said German law could not be applied to Demjanjuk as he was born in the Ukraine. He has also argued that the trial had to be suspended while documents from Demjanjuk’s previous trials in Israel and the US are located. Busch told the court that the defense could not be prepared properly “because of missing documents.” Demjanjuk’s lawyers have repeatedly called for the trial to be abandoned because of their client’s ill health.
Meanwhile, it is reported that Harry Männil, an Estonian alleged to have murdered 100 Jews during World War II, has died in his adopted homeland of Costa Rica at the age of 89. Männil was believed to be the richest Estonian in the world. In the past, Israeli authorities said that they had obtained documents from US authorities which indicated that he was a high-ranking Nazi. Männil himself always denied accusations.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress